20th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Illuminated by the golden light of the sun, the elderly priest stops on the narrow and dangerous path that, overlooking the valley and along the rocky wall of the mountain, leads to the 12th-century rock church, of which he has been the guardian for 60 years. This Orthodox church, carved into the rock atop a mountain in northern Ethiopia, houses frescoes of biblical stories and ancient relics handed down to the present day.
After almost two years of civil war in Ethiopia's Tigray region, some priests have been killed, many churches have been damaged or destroyed, and the priceless relics and manuscripts kept in these sacred places have been looted or burned. It is a tragedy that threatens to undermine the roots of Orthodox Christianity in Africa.
||© Andrea Peruzzi